- Major entries:
- Peucedanum graveolens Benth. & Hook. Dill.
- Peucedanum sativum Benth. & Hook. Parsnip.
Peucedanum ambiguum Nutt. Umbelliferae. Biscuitroot. Breadroot. Konse.
Western North America. The root is called breadroot or biscuitroot by travelers and konse by the Indians of Oregon and Idaho. The Canadians call it racine blanc. When fresh, it is like the parsnip in taste and, as the plant dies, the root becomes brittle and very white with an agreeable taste of mild celery. It is easily reduced to flour and is much used for food.
Peucedanum farinosum Geyer.
Western North America. The round to oblong, white root is gathered by the Oregon Indians.
Peucedanum foeniculaceum Nutt.
Western North America. The roots are eaten by the Indians.
Peucedanum geyeri S. Wats.
The tubers are an Indian food.
Europe and Asia. This hardy, biennial plant was introduced to Britain in 1570. Masters says this is supposed to be the plant which is called arrise in the New Testament narrative. Dill is commonly regarded as the anethon of Dioscorides and the anethum of Pliny, Palladius and others. The name dill is found in writings of the Middle Ages, and dill is spoken of as a garden plant in the early botanies. In England, it was called dyll by Turner, 1538, which proves its presence at that date. It also occurs in the vocabulary of Alfric, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the tenth century. Dill was in American gardens before 1806. It seems to be spontaneous in the far West as its roots are used as food by the Snake and Shoshoni Indians, by whom it is called yampeh. (Yampeh is actually several species of Perideridia, Umbelliferae -MM).
It is cultivated for its leaves and seeds. The former are used as flavors in soups and sauces, and the seeds are added to pickled cucumbers to heighten the flavor. In India, the seeds are much used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The seeds are to be found in every Indian bazaar and form one of the chief ingredients in curry powder.
Peucedanum nudicaule Nutt. Smyrnium.
Western North America. The Indians boil the tops in soups the same as we use celery. Beckwith says the roots are used as food by the Indians of the West.
Peucedanum ostruthium Koch. Masterwort.
Europe. The foliage was formerly boiled and eaten as a potherb.
Peucedanum palustre Moench. Marsh Hog's Fennel. Milk Parsley.
Europe. The roots are used in Russia as a substitute for ginger.
Europe and North America. The parsnip is a biennial, the root of which has been in use as an esculent from an early period. The Emperor Tiberius, according to Pliny, was so fond of parsnips that he had them brought annually from Germany, from the neighborhood of Gelduba on the Rhine, where they were said to be grown in great perfection. The wild plant, according to Don, is a native of Europe even to the Caucasus; in North America, on the banks of the Saskatchewan and Red River; in South America about Buenos Aires; and is naturalized in northeastern America. The root of the wild plant is spindle-shaped, white, aromatic, mucilaginous and sweet, with a degree of acrimony. From the seeds of the wild variety in the garden of the Royal Agricultural Society at Cirencester, originated the highly-appreciated garden variety known as Student. It has been supposed that the pastinaca of the Romans included the carrot and the parsnip, and that the elaphoboscon of Pliny was the parsnip. Pliny describes the medicinal virtues of the elaphoboscon and says it is much esteemed as a food. The references, however, do not prove this plant to be cultivated, nor do the references to the pastinaca satisfactorily indicate the parsnip. One is willing to accept such evidence as we find that the cultivated parsnip was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Among the early botanists, there is much confusion in names between the carrot and the parsnip. The root must, however, have come into general use long before these records and perhaps its culture started in Germany, as it seems to have been unknown to Ruellius, 1536, but is recorded by Fuchsius in Germany, 1542, who gives a figure but calls it gross zam mosen. The parsnip is figured by Roeszlin, 1550, under the name pestnachen and in 1552 is recorded by Tragus as having a sweet root, used especially by the poor and better known in the kitchens than fat.
The following is a synonymy founded on pictures and descriptions combined, all representing our long parsnip-form of root but some indicating the hollow crown, upon which some of the modern varieties are founded, especially Camerarius in 1586:
Sisarum sativum magnum. Fuch. 751. 1542.
Pestnachen. Roeszl. 106. 1550.
Pastinaca sativa. Matth. 353. 1558; 500. 1570; 548. 1598; Pin. 318. 1561.
Pastinaca domestica vulgi. Lob. Obs. 407. 1576; Icon. 1:709. 1591.
De Pastinaca. Pastenay, gerlin oder moren. Pictorius 94. 1581.
Pastinaca domestica. Cam. Epit. 507. 1586; Dur. C. 837. 1617
Pastinaca sativa vulgi, Matthioli. Dalechamp 719. 1587.
Pastinaca latifolia sativa. Ger. 870. 1597; Dod. 680. 1616.
Pastinaca sativa latifolia, Germanica, luteo flore. Bauh. J. 2: pt. 2, 150, 25i. 1651.
Long parsnips of the moderns
In 1683, the long parsnips are figured in England as in great use for a delicate, sweet food; are spoken of by Ray, 1686; Townsend, 1726; Mawe, 1778; and Miller, 1807.
The round parsnip is called siam by Don, 1834. Its roots are funnel-shaped, tapering very abruptly, often curving inwards. There is little known of its early history. It was noted in the Bon Jardinier for 1824; as also by Pirolle in Le Hort. Francois; by Mclntosh, Burr and other more recent writers.
The parsnip was brought to America by the earliest colonists. It is mentioned at Margarita Island by Hawkins, 1564; in Peru by Acosta, 1604; as cultivated in Virginia in 1609 and 1648; in Massachusetts in 1629 and as common in 1630; and was among the Indian foods destroyed by Gen. Sullivan ls in western New York in 1779.
Peucedanum triternatum Nutt.
Western North America. The roots are of the size of peanuts and are collected very largely by the Indians. When dried, they are hard and brittle and have a mild, sweet taste. They afford a good proportion of the food of some tribes. The fusiform root when roasted is one of the grateful vegetables of the Indians.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.